What Is the New York Futures Exchange (NYFE)?

The New York Futures Exchange (NYFE) was a subsidiary of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) focused on the trading of futures and options contracts, mainly pertaining to NYSE stock index futures.

Founded in 1980, the NYFE has since been sold or merged several times, most recently in 2007 when it was acquired by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). Today, the current version of the NYFE is known as the ICE Futures exchange.

Key Takeaways

  • The New York Futures Exchange (NYFE) was a prominent exchange focused on financial derivatives.
  • The exchange focused mainly on stock index futures linked to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), as NYFE at that time was a subsidiary of the NYSE.
  • Today’s derivatives markets have expanded to include a wide range of products, many of which had not even been invented in 1980 when the NYFE was launched.

Understanding the NYFE

The NYFE was one of the first institutions in the United States to pioneer the trading of futures contracts for non-physical products such as stock indices, currencies, and government bonds. As interest in these kinds of products grew, the NYSE established the NYFE to create a dedicated venue for futures and options traders. Trading began with U.S. Treasury bond futures and expanded into stock index futures based on the NYSE Composite Index.

One of the factors contributing to the growth in popularity of these instruments was the relatively severe inflation experienced in the U.S. during the 1970s. In this environment, traders were eager to find tools that would allow them to hedge their interest rate and inflation risks. Financial products such as bond and stock index futures became a popular tool, encouraging the development of increasingly diverse and complex derivative products.

Today, these types of products are available not only for individual securities, but also for indices, currencies, and even other derivatives.

Today, the legacy of the NYFE continues through the ICE, an American holding company that owns a portfolio of financial marketplaces including the NYSE and several clearinghouses that help ensure the smooth functioning of the modern financial system. As of 2019, ICE was the fourth-largest derivatives marketplace in the world, with nearly 2.3 billion derivative contracts changing hands through its various marketplaces.

Real-World Example of the NYFE

Although the NYFE is no longer in existence, the kind of financial derivative trading that it was once known for has only grown in popularity. Today, the various derivative marketplaces operated by ICE and other exchange operators facilitate the trading of far more products than were available under the NYFE. Examples include interest rates, physical commodities such as coffee beans or metals, currency pairs, or even carbon credits.

The scope of products offered under derivative markets such as the NYFE continues to expand. In 2018, for instance, ICE announced new projects designed to facilitate the trading of cryptocurrencies and the storage of digital assets—two products that had not even been conceived of when the NYFE was launched in 1980.